Schools Have to Go Digital to Remain Viable 2.0

This is the first of the 2016 series of short blogs on the digital evolution of schooling.  All posts in the series relate to the 10 Week Digital Leadership Programs.

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

Schools in the developed world have to go digital if they are to remain viable (Lee and Broadie, 2015).

In the same way as the digital masters in industry are showing the way forward and are employing highly efficient and increasingly productive digitally based ecosystems to heighten their productivity and to win the custom so too are the pathfinder schools globally.

Indeed it is now apparent the traditional, much loved but highly inefficient, inflexible paper based school has as much chance of competing against a digital school as the local bookseller has against its online competition. Like the bookseller it might take a few years, but in time the viability of paper based schools will be increasingly tested.

In a world where the young and their parents – the clients of the school – have normalised the everyday, 24/7/365 use of the digital and have ever rising expectations of the technology it is already clear increasingly they will choose, when available those digital schools that meet or exceed their educational, cultural and digital expectations.

Schools can opt to continue operating within the paper based paradigm, unilaterally deciding what is educationally appropriate, focussing on paper based external exams, banning the use of the students’ digital technologies, daily lagging ever further behind both society’s rising digital expectations and the pathfinder schools astute all pervasive use of the digital but each day they do they take themselves further out of the game.

Where the traditional insular paper based mode of schooling has after a hundred plus years maximised its potential the digital, socially networked mode of schooling is just beginning to tap its immense potential and to markedly enhance its productivity.

The digital evolution of the pathfinder schools, and their adoption of increasingly integrated, mature, powerful and agile digitally based ecosystems has highlighted not only their immense potential and their ready facility to realise that potential but also the very considerable structural limitations and inefficiencies of the traditional mode of schooling. Where the former is structurally and culturally highly agile and equipped to accommodate rapid on-going change and evolution the latter is structurally inflexible, and change and risk adverse. Even well led elementary schools will take approximately five years of concerted effort to reach the Digital Normalisation stage.

Sit down and compare the educational, cultural, social, economic benefits, and the likely productivity of a paper based and digital school and it obvious why all schools will have to go digital to have a hope of remaining viable.

Ask yourself the simple question, to which would you send your children?